You’ve heard the experts say it before, and you’re going to hear it again: your site needs a backup plan.

The Feb. 2011 glitch at Google, where the contents of more than 150,000 email accounts were accidentally wiped out, should serve as warning to everyone that even the most robust and trusted systems can fail. WordPress, which is widely known as a solid and stable content management system, can lose data as a result of user or server errors.

So when you’re managing a website on WordPress, you should assume that it’s not a matter of if you’re going to need a backup. It’s a matter of when. And when you get to that crucial moment, it’s too late to start doing your planning. When you need a backup, you need your backup right away.

This article will provide a simple step-by-step guide for setting up a backup plugin on your WordPress website. The plugin we’ll focus on is called Automatic WordPress Backup and it was created by Dan Coulter under commission from the Volcanic Web Design Company.

Automatic WordPress Backup is, as its name says, an automated solution for creating full backups of your WordPress database. In addition to backing up your content, it also backs up your config file, themes and plugins.

Many WordPress backup solutions are much less user friendly. So if you’re comfortable with SQL and phpMyAdmin, you might want to check out a tool like WP-DB-Backup. But if you want a tool that’s user friendly for non-technical users, Automatic WordPress Backup is the best tool you’ll find.

Step 1:
Sign up for an Amazon S3 account. You’ll want to go to Amazon Web Services and click the sign up button.

Step 2:
Get your AWS keys from Amazon. You’re going to need two codes to do this, the AWS access key and the AWS secret key. You can find both codes at your Security Credentials page. (You’ll want to bookmark this page. It can be tricky to navigate to.)

Once you’re on the Security Credentials page, scroll down to Access Credentials. You’ll see your Access Key ID on the Access Keys tab.

Then click “show” to get your secret access key. Copy both keys into a plain text document, using an editor such as Notepad (Windows) or TextEdit (Mac).

Step 3:
Login to your WordPress dashboard. Go to Plugins-> Add New. Search the plugin directory for “Automatic WordPress Backup”. When you receive a list of plugins to install, be sure you install the one by Dan Coulter.

Click “Install Now.”

Step 4:
Click on your Plugins list in the left nav of the WordPress dashboard and under “Automatic WordPress Backup” click Activate. Now you’re ready to configure the plugin.

Step 5:
You should still be in your plugins list. Click “Settings” under Automatic WordPress Backup.

Step 6:
Here are the values you’ll need to enter for this plugin. Once you’ve entered them, you’re good to go.

AWS Access Key: enter the value from your text document

AWS Secret Key: enter the value from your text document

S3 Bucket Name: You don’t have to put your backup in a bucket. If you don’t, move to the next item. But if you’re using multiple sites, you might want to create a bucket. Enter a name where it says “Create a bucket” below this drop down, click the “save changes” button, then select that bucket in the drop down.

Backup Schedule: I select “daily” unless it’s a site that doesn’t get updated very often.

Parts of your blog to back up: I recommend selecting all of these checkboxes.

Delete backups older than one month: I usually check this, and I also keep a monthly backup for one year. Amazon storage is cheap, and if there’s one thing we know about backups, it’s that redundancy counts.

Hopefully, you’ll never need to reinstall your site from a backup. But when you do, you’ll find Automatic WordPress Backup a great help in restoring your data … quickly and easily.

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